Access to new interventions
Implementation research key to access to disease interventions
Research on how to translate scientific and medical advances into effective and accessible health interventions is crucial to the drive against diseases of poverty such as dengue and malaria. A new initiative aims to boost such implementation research and to spread its benefits to those who need it most.
TDR in conjunction with the Ugandan Ministry of Health is organizing a meeting in Kampala 28-30 June on the use of implementation research to increase access to improved tools against infectious diseases and map existing and new strategies. Lack of access to these tools and interventions is currently a major barrier to better health and healthcare and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
Nearly 70 researchers, implementers and scientists have been invited to the consultation, which will finalize a comprehensive report identifying gaps and priorities in implementation research into diseases of poverty.
The TropIKA.net website has created a dedicated 'Knowledge Hub' about the access initiative at http://meeting.tropika.net/access2010, with opinion pieces from experts in health systems research, and full coverage of the consultation.
The Kampala meeting agenda has been shaped around the chapters of the planned report, allowing for discussion of the following broad areas:
- a framework for turning new and improved disease control tools, strategies and interventions into effective solutions
- identification of solutions to challenges and current inadequacies in implementation research for access and delivery
- agreement on a real-life roadmap to show how implementation research will influence adoption and scale-up of tools and interventions
The report will feed into the Global Symposium on Health Systems Research taking place in Montreux, Switzerland from 16 to 19 November 2010. It will also be used as a resource for TDR's Global report for research on infectious diseases of poverty which will identify gaps and priorities in international research and is due for publication in June 2011.
Challenges and achievements
TDR has long championed implementation research because it provides maximum benefit for end users at minimum cost. For instance, implementation research led to successful community-directed treatment for onchocerciasis (river blindness) and the development of unit-dose blister packs for easy home use of antimalarials.
Dr Sabine Beckmann, senior programme adviser in the Global Fund/Global Health Partnerships cluster at the UN Development Program, one of TDR's cosponsors, says that it is not enough simply to develop and provide new health interventions. For instance, bed-nets must be used in a certain way and so distribution must go hand in hand with behaviour change strategies, she said in an interview with TropIKA.net. Implementation research is vital to provide evidence and cost- effective strategies and help prevent stock-outs, wastage, spoilage and drug resistance, said Beckmann.
"In other words, it’s not enough to just have a medical or technical solution. It’s never just about giving out a drug. There really needs to be hands-on guidance on how to implement a programme," said Beckmann, who will chair the opening plenary sessions at the Kampala meeting.
Dr Beckmann also added that "Implementation research can provide guidance beyond medical guidance and give the patient a chance to access the right drugs for the right disease, to stop wasting money and treat the disease that person actually has."
The consultation will discuss implementation research challenges and achievements with regard to access and delivery and will examine the role of product development partnerships, global initiatives and country actors. It will consider a real-life roadmap for research development, and look at evidence uptake and use for decision-making, and capacity building and governance.
"One of the biggest problems we face within implementation research is that we don’t share what we have," said Professor Fred Binka, dean of the University of Ghana’s School of Public Health. "Nobody publishes enough and it is not seen as a science. But people should share and then we might remind others to think about things in their areas so they don’t re-invent the wheel. They can share how you solved the problem," Binka told TropIKA.net.
"In Uganda, they will be achieving that goal of sharing and must impress on others how easy it is to do implementation research. So if you are not doing enough, I hope this will make it clear that it’s doesn’t have to be a randomised control trial, you just have to be make up your mind that you need to address these issues in a scientific way and identify the problems and methods that will allow you to do the research."
For further information contact
Dr. Jane Kengeya Kayondo